Munich - A number of new faces have certainly wasted little time making their mark in their new surroundings over the first half of the 2012/13 Bundesliga season. The summer signing to have made the biggest impact of them all so far is something of a surprise however - FC Bayern Munich centre back Dante.
A cut above
A firm favourite with his team-mates and already a cult figure at the Allianz Arena, the 29-year-old Brazilian defensive coordinator has taken to life in the Bavarian capital like a duck to water - both on and off the pitch.
"If is fit and healthy, he starts," Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes told the club’s official website recently. Indeed, the runaway Bundesliga leaders have conceded just seven league goals so far this season, with the new arrival from Borussia Mönchengladbach starting all 17 of their domestic outings to date. Skipper Philipp Lahm has even gone so far as to describe him as "one of the best defenders I've ever played with."
Dante's calmness under pressure, aerial ability and tactical awareness make for an impressive all-round package. Whether alongside Jerome Boateng or Holger Badstuber, he has slotted in seamlessly at the heart of the record champions' defence. And on current form, he looks like holding down his place there for a long time to come as Bayern seek to take their game to an even higher level.
Comeback of the season so far: Rene Adler
Player of the season so far: Thomas Müller
Newcomer of the season so far: Eintracht Frankfurt
Return of the season so far: Rafael van der Vaart